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Taken 3 - DVD Review

Taken 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

FEW film franchises feel as cynical as Taken given its repeated but increasingly ill-advised attempts to sacrifice the things that made it initially so special in favour of bigger box office returns.

The third film in the series once more lowers the certficate to a 12A and short-changes fans of the first film by depriving them of what they want to see: namely, Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills kicking, punching, shooting and employing his ‘particular set of skills’ against a bunch of unwitting bad guys.

True, they’ve attempted to freshen things up this time. No one is taken… although a key life is – namely that of Mills’ ex-wife (Famke Janssen), with Mills framed for her murder.

Forced on the run, Fugitive-style, Mills is then forced to embark on a desperate race against time to clear his name and find those responsible, while keeping his daughter (Maggie Grace) safe. Along the way, there’s a vicious Russian ogliarch (Sam Spruell) to deal with, a dogged inspector (Forest Whitaker) to evade and a crestfallen current husband (Dougray Scott), who may be working on his own agenda.

Co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen attempt to keep viewers interested by adding emotional complexity and the odd twist but are undone by shoddy plotting and poor characterisation. Whitaker fares particlarly badly as a supposedly worthy adversary for Mills in the intelligence stakes. But from the moment he persists in making Mills his prime suspect, you tend to lose faith in the character.

The hammy family dynamics that have long been the franchise’s weakest element continue to place a strain on proceedings here, while the villains are a pantomime collection of Russians who never once do anything to suggest they could gain the upper hand over Mills. There is no sense of peril, let alone loss.

When the action finally does arrive, director Olivier Megaton also fails to deliver. His camera is either too shaky and frenetic to see what is going on, or the editing is so bad that you know there’s a more violent cut just waiting to expand the film’s earning potential once it hits the home entertainment stratosphere – and that’s despite a scene of water-boarding in the 12A edit.

Neeson does his best with the limited material and acquits himself well physically. He remains the most compelling reason to see the film. But given that he’s forced to work with such limited resources, there’s little he can do to salvage the franchise.

Hence, what started out as a lean, mean, surprising stand-alone action thriller is now a flabby, lightweight and predictable franchise that feels increasingly desperate in its attempts to keep going.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 15, 2015